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AD Interviews: Renzo Piano - Part II

Part I – Part II – Part III

Piano's Progress

© Renzo Piano Building Workshop
© Renzo Piano Building Workshop

In honor of Renzo Piano’s 75th (gasp!) birthday, we offer an update on his latest projects.  The septuagenarian has several large-scale works in various stages of construction scattered across the world, and has celebrated the opening of others within this past year.  While we have been continuously following the conceptualization, construction and completion of the Shard, Renzo’s talent is sweeping across major cities both in the States and Europe, including: a satellite museum in New York; a cultural hub for Athens; an urban cultural catalyst for Santander, Spain; an interior renovation for Los Angeles; a recently completed museum wing for Boston; plus, a redeveloped brownfield site turned science center for Trento, Italy.  No matter the project location, scale, or program, Piano’s  ability to craft an architecture with a sense of lightness, strong attention to detail and overall aesthetic elegance sets him in a very particular category of the profession.

So, here’s to a happy 75th and 75 more years of great architecture, Renzo!

More after the break.

In Progress: MUSE Museum of Science / Renzo Piano

© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg
© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg

Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Location: Trento, Italy Architect: Renzo Piano Project Year: 2012 Photographs: Courtesy of RPBW, RPBW – Stefano Goldberg, RPBW – Paolo Pelanda, Colombo Costruzioni – Alessandro Gadutti, RPBW – Cristiano Zaccaria

© RPBW - Stefano Goldberg © RPBW - Stefano Goldberg © RPBW - Paolo Pelanda © Colombo Costruzioni - Alessandro Gadutti

Does the Shard Need Time?

The disappointment generated by the Shard’s opening laser light show is not so surprising for a project that has been grounded in controversy for over a decade.  Since 2000, when Piano sketched his initial vision upon meeting developer Irvine Sellar, the project has consistently met obstacles such as English Heritage and the financial crash of 2007.   But, the biggest opposition of the tower has been its height.  English Heritage claimed that the tower, formerly known as London Bridge Tower, would “tear through historic London like a shard of glass” (ironically, coining the new name of the tower), and Piano counters that, “The best architecture takes time to be understood…I would prefer people to judge it not now. Judge it in 10 years’ time.”

Leading us to wonder…does the Shard simply need time to be fully appreciated?

The Shard's Opening Celebration

Tonight, Renzo Piano’s Shard will officially celebrate its opening complete with an amazing light show.  A dozen lasers and thirty searchlights will beam streams of light across the city, creating a network between 15 other significant landmarks in London, such as the Gherkin, London Eye, Tate Modern, and Tower Bridge.  (So, if you are in London, don’t miss the event at 10.15 this evening, and be sure to share some photos with us!)

Capping out at 310 meters, the Shard has become the tallest building in London, as well as the entire European Union.  We have been following the history of Renzo Piano’s creation, and although laden with financial troubles, a change in developers,  and criticism from Londoners, the project has finally reached completion.

More about the history of the tower after the break.

Update: Botín Center / Renzo Piano

© Renzo Piano
© Renzo Piano

A week ago we told you about the Botín Center, Renzo Piano’s first major project in Spain. We also featured some preliminar models of the project and more information on this building, which will have the largest private foundation in Spain invest over 150 million USD. We now have more official images, including some drawings and sketches. Check them out after the break.

Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali to design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Award-winning architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali will design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced today. “Renzo’s track record of creating iconic cultural landmarks combined with Zoltan’s success in transforming historically-significant buildings is a perfect marriage for a museum that celebrates the history and the future of the movies,” said Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO.

Update: The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center / Renzo Piano

ArchDaily is once again updating you on the progress of  The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center designed by Renzo Piano.  We showed you initial plans for the building back in 2009.  Since then, we have been provided with more detail on the development of the project, which we continue to share with you.  As previously mentioned, the center will be a sustainable arts, education, and recreation complex that will contribute to the community of Athens, financed by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Plans for this building began five years ago but it was not until December 2011 that preparatory excavation work finally began.  Construction is scheduled for Spring 2012 and according to the foundation website:

The beginning of the construction phase comes at a very critical juncture in modern Greek history and brings a much-needed sense of optimism and hope, as well as a whole range of significant economic benefits to the country. Approximately €1 billion of total economic stimulus will be derived from the upfront commitment in the construction of the SNFCC, while 1,500 to 2,400 people will be employed each year to support SNFCC construction and all related industries.

More after the break.

Update: The Shard / Renzo Piano

We have been covering Renzo Piano’s Shard for London throughout its design and construction process.  Slated to become the tallest building in Europe, the Shard will make a remarkable impression of the London skyline, dwarfing most of the metropolis as the 1000ft+ tower streamlines toward the sky.   The tower has been constructed in an era of economic uncertainty, and although its height alludes confidence and a feeling of power, as it takes shape, many question the motives behind the project and its future implications on the city.

More about the Shard after the break.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Expansion / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Opening in 2012, the $118 million steel, glass, and copper-clad expansion to Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by Renzo Piano Building Workshop will more than double the size of the current facility. Included in the project are a new entrance, music hall, gallery space, and other amenities for an institution that has remained largely unaltered since opening in 1903.

Architecture City Guide: Amsterdam

Courtesy of Flickr CC License / llamazotti
Courtesy of Flickr CC License / llamazotti

This week, with the help of our readers, our Architecture City Guide is headed to Amsterdam. With its numerous canals, Renaissance architecture, and bike friendly culture, it is hard not to fall in love with Amsterdam. Also, if you love modern or contemporary architecture one could hardly argue against making this city the first stop on a tour of Europe. Our list of 24 buildings hardly does justice to this amazing city, but it will certainly give those less familiar with the city a starting point. We will be adding to our list in the near future, as we didn’t come close to incorporating all our readers’ suggestions. In the meantime add more of your favorites to the comment section below.

The Architecture City Guide: Amsterdam list and corresponding map after the break.

Architecture City Guide: Paris

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Benh Lieu Song
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Benh Lieu Song

This week, with the help of our readers, our Architecture City Guide is headed to Paris. For centuries Paris has been the laboratory where innovative architects and artists have come to test their ideas. This has created a city that has bit of everything. Where the architecture of some cities seems to undergo phases of punctuated equilibrium, Paris’s architectural fossil record gives an impression of gradualism; all the missing links are there. This makes it easy to trace the origins of the most contemporary ideas throughout history. Nothing seems to come out of nowhere. If you look around you kind find the design’s inspiration running through the city’s Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Rocco, Neo-Classical, Empire, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modern, Post-Modern, and Contemporary Architecture. Seen in another context, many of Paris’s buildings might seem out of place, but the bones of this city support the newest iterations on the oldest and most profound questions. The 24 contemporary designs that comprise our list probably should not be viewed outside of this context, even though that is the stated goal of some of the designs.

As the most visited city in the world and arguably the capital of culture, it is impossible to capture the essence of Paris in 24 modern/contemporary designs. Our readers supplied us with great suggestions, and we really appreciate the help and use of their photographs. The list is far from complete and we realize that many iconic buildings are not yet on the list. We will be adding to it in the near feature, so please add more in the comments section below.

The Architecture City Guide: Paris list and corresponding map after the break.

Architecture City Guide: London

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Diliff
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Diliff

This week, with the help of our readers, our Architecture City Guide is headed to London. This is our second stop in Europe, and once again I had to capitulate and double the number of buildings that we normally feature. We could not feature all of the suggestions, and will be adding to the list in the near future. We really appreciate those readers who offered their suggestions and the use of their pictures to make up this list.

Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” As home to a long tradition of kings and queens, the Royal Society, and the roots of the Industrial Revolution, it is not surprising that there is a rich tension and collaboration between the historic and contemporary architecture in London. This reflects a city and culture that has a strong history of celebrating the past while also moving forward. Conflicts often emerge, as the goals of one side clash with those of the other. This relationship, however, is why I find walking the streets of London so appealing - those beautiful moments when history and progress collide.

Once again, thanks to all our readers for your help. We encourage you to add more of your favorites in the comment section below.

The Architecture City Guide: London list and corresponding map after the break.

Architecture City Guide: Chicago

We are headed to the windy city of Chicago for this weeks Architecture City Guide series.  Jam packed with architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, here are our 12 recommendations if you are visiting Chicago.  Head to the comment section and share your recommendations for additional buildings to include on our list!

The Architecture City Guide: Chicago list and corresponding map after the break!

Architecture City Guide: Houston

Houston is our focus this week for our Architecture City Guide series.  We know Houston is packed with lots of great architecture so we are expecting to hear about your can’t miss buildings in the comment section below.  Remember this list is intended to be added to by you, our readers.  We will be updating our Architecture City Guides in the future to reflect your suggested buildings to visit.

Follow the break for our Houston list and corresponding map!

Design + Wine exhibit at SFMOMA

Zaha Hadid's Tondonia Vina Pavilion
Zaha Hadid's Tondonia Vina Pavilion

“How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now” is a brand new exhibit at the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art.  Co-created and designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the exhibit was organized by Henry Urbach, SFMOMA’s Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design.  Bringing attention to the wine industry and its integration with the latest artists, designers and architects the exhibit will be on display at SFMOMA until April. A main part of the exhibit is featuring the architectural spaces that house the wine making process, tastings, museums, etc.  Some big name architects who have developed designs for cutting-edge wineries include: Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Herzog and de Meuron, Renzo Piano and Alvaro Siza.

In Progress: The Shard / Renzo Piano

Flickr user © Nicnac1000
Flickr user © Nicnac1000

Renzo Piano’s Shard is quickly climbing up London’s skyline.  The 1,016 ft high skyscraper will provide the mixed use density the city needs, as it incorporates apartments, office space, a spa, hotel and restaurants within its sleek pyramidal form.  Inspired by perhaps a ship’s mast from the Pool of London, or a modern take on the church spire, the Shard will become a prominent fixture in the skyline as it nears it completion.  Check out these images  illustrating the Shard’s progress – the crisp aesthetic commonly found in Piano’s projects is becoming evident as the low-iron glazing is applied to the structure.

More images after the break.

The Shard: London's Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano

We just featured an article about London’s construction frenzy, which includes over half a dozen skyscrapers for the city.   This new era will completely alter the city’s skyline as tall buildings will be sprouting everywhere to house new office, commercial, and residential activities.  Of these new structures, Renzo Piano’s 310 meter high mix-used tower, The Shard (be sure to check out our coverage of the tower), will not only become London’s tallest tower, but also the tallest building in all of Western Europe. Of all of London’s new developments, we are excited to see this dynamic tower’s impact on the city and its relationship with London’s context and future neighboring skyscrapers.

We have new images to share from Renzo Piano Building Workshop and more video clips of the construction progress after the break.